Love and Monsters is available to stream on Netflix
“I knew this one kid who was eaten by a goldfish he won at a carnival. Man, Todd loved that goldfish. And that cat.” – Joel (Love and Monsters)
Love and Monsters was yet another movie denied a cinema release by Covid, and more’s the pity because it’s a movie that deserved a big screen rather than a decidedly quiet arrival on Netflix. Michael Matthews’ delightful post-apocalyptic adventure starring Dylan O’Brien is packed full of B-Movie charm while embracing a family-friendly Spielburgesque tone, making it a perfect monster-sized treat. As an asteroid named Agatha 616 hurtled towards the Earth, scientists did exactly what we would expect them to do; they blew it up with multiple rockets. However, the chemical compounds in the missiles fell back to Earth and turned the animal kingdom on its head by enlarging every insect, bug, crustacean and lizard to a monster-size. The result would place humans at the bottom of the food chain as they became lunch for every creature hit with a shoe or devoured on a dinner plate. As a result, 95% of the world’s population was wiped out, leaving small bands of survivors in secluded underground bunkers.
For our narrator and unlikely hero, Joel (O’Brien), the disaster came just as he had found love with Aimee (Jessica Henwick), and in the seven years since his mum, dad and friends were either squashed or eaten, Joel has dreamed of reuniting with Aimee from the underground bunker he calls home. The trouble is Joel isn’t exactly a bug-killing hero, and Aimee is eighty-five miles away in a different colony on the coast. After a giant ant breaches his settlement, killing one of the survivors, Joel decides to set off on a quest to reunite with Aimee, meeting new friends along the way, including an intelligent dog called Boy. But can Joel survive on the outside in a new world where he is just a tasty lunchtime snack?
Michael Matthews’ movie is a visual and auditory delight mixing elements of the classic road trip with Ray Harryhausen-inspired monster horror. The narrative has deep eco-messages, from our treatment of the natural world around us to our ability to live in harmony with the glorious creatures who make up our diverse world. While there is a predictability to our hero’s journey, O’Brien keeps things fast, humorous, energetic and thoroughly engaging throughout, so much so that by the time we reach the final scenes, we don’t want to leave Joel’s adventures behind.
Love and Monsters is a family-oriented survival/apocalypse film that deserved much more than a streaming release. Matthews and screenwriters Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson offer us an enjoyable return to the giant creature flicks of the 1940s and 1950s while injecting a thoroughly modern dose of eco-discussion.